Thursday, October 01, 2015
Every human being is unique, but maybe you are more unique than others
One of the things I learned in grand jury duty is that they were not my peers. Could I be fairly judged anywhere? Is each of us so unique that we are peerless?
A friend offered the phrase in the title as a response: Every human being is unique, but maybe you are more unique than others.
Ever since the 1960s, after which everyone had to be "creative"* and, of course, of such individuality as to be unique, people have been going around saying idiotic, self-contradictory things such as "everyone is special" (said by a Special Education teacher, in front of a crowd that included a politician whose kid was in her class). I loved the 1960s and would not reverse them by any means, but some things got misunderstood.
One of them is this business of uniqueness. Saying everyone is unique is a way of saying no one is.
Of course, our fingerprints and DNA are, at some cellular and micro-molecular levels, unique. However, let's not get too carried away by that. Because we all have DNA and fingerprints, and in that respect we are universally like one another.
We are, if we think of the Creator as a painter and the elements of our being the colors of a palette, variations or hues from the same range of possibilities. In the beginning, She painted one person tall and one person short, one fat, one skinny, one dark, one more pale and so forth.
Of course, given 7 billion** people, the number of possibilities is pretty large.
I applied the numbers to myself. I belong to a number of people in our era who, as a result of parents' background and peripatetic jobs, were born in the 1950s as part of a cultural fusion, anticipating by decades the effects of globalization and instant global communication (the Internet). In my case the mix was unlikely, as the two particular national cultures included that of Argentina and of the United States.
There are 41.3 million Argentines, or 0.59% of the world's population and 312.8 million Americans, 4.47% of the world's human beings. A probability calculation yields a 2.65% of the world's population that has the same two cultural components.
I am male, so I must pare that down by half (1.33% of all people). I am part of the post-World War II "baby boom" generation, which represents roughly 17% of the population (down to 0.07% of all people).
That's pretty unique, you'll say. And I haven't counted other distinguishing characteristics: hair and skin color, height and weight, languages spoken, education attainment and so on and so forth.
There remains the fact that the science of medicine that applies to other people applies to me. My liver may function differently from yours, but we both have livers and the medicine to cure mine will more than likely cure yours.
Indeed, if we were truly unique, we could not have language and communication (yes, most people are very bad at this) nor any kind of collective characteristics.
Still, perhaps I tend to be rare because I speak two languages with an identical and very high proficiency, plus a few others only a smattering, or just enough for etymology, history or exegesis, all hobbies of mine.
Among Argentine-Americans (of whom I know only my half-siblings), I am among the half (mathematical odds) that chose to fight the unaccepting social environment of one part of my culture, rather than flee the conflict.
I became the contrarian whose musings populate this blog by the force of habit. I almost expect people to disagree with me and vice versa.
* To create still means to make something from nothing, to originate the existence of something. No human being is creative; we are, at best and hope the crick don't rise, innovative in our arrangement of what there is.
** All population figures are for 2012 for comparability.